On Saturday, 10 April, 15,000 protesters walked through the inner-city of Amsterdam protesting against the right wing government’s plans to expel 26,000 refugees. The national demonstration, entitled, ‘Stop the expulsions! Grant a general asylum!’, was against the plans of the VVD (liberal party) dominated government’s plans to forcibly remove thousands of refugees – men, women and children. Teh government minister responsible, Verdonk, aims, in the coming months, to expel thousands of refugees, including those that have lived in the Netherlands for years.
The protest shows that that the resistance against the plans of the government is strong. More action will follow. Several well-known personalities and politicians from Green Left, the Socialist Party (a broad party, in which ‘Offensief’, the Dutch section of the CWI, participates), and even the Labour Party spoke at the demonstration at Dam square, in central Amesterdam.
The demonstration was organised by the umberella group, Keer het Tij (‘Turn the Tide’), in which almost 500 organisations are involved. Several refugee organisations supported the demonstation. Many young people, immigrants, left wing organisations, but also progressive Christian associations, were part of the crowd. Unfortunately, there were no trade unions officially involved. The trade union leaders in the Netherlands recently signed a so-called ‘social agreement’ with the government and employers. These ‘leaders’ are not yet willing to take the lead against the austerity policies of the governing coalition of the CDA/VV/D66 (Christian-Democrats, and right wing and ‘left wing’ liberals).
Members and supporters of Offensief sold, with the support of Belgian comrades, almost one hundred papers during the 10 April protest, and also many euro’s worth of other socialist literature. We were clearly visible in the demonstration and found a warm response. So far, one new person on the demonstration agreed to join us.
The ‘Turn the Tide’ grouping will organise more protests later this year against the governement’s policies. The group has also taken the initiative to hold a Dutch Social Forum in November. At this mega-conference the various social movements will debate a new strategy against the right wing governement. In the meantime, Offensief argues that we should organise protests that involve the mass of working people and that trade union activists should struggle for the breaking of the ‘social agreement’ with the employers and the governement.
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